Thursday, May 31, 2018

Some Back And Forth On Jordan Peterson


This is a spectacular essay, brilliant I’d say, which isn’t a word I use often. 

Wesley Yang is a most compelling, authoritative, trenchant, judicious, fair minded, deep and probing writer and thinker in the way of long form journalism. 

And no pussyfooting: he is lucid about what he thinks and where he stands. 

To read him is like eating food so delicious that its flavours and tastes and satisfactions seem ineffable. Reading him induces such pleasure that it’s deeply resonant and exhilarating.


As the writer says, he gives sermons, and since I don't like them as a genre or need them (in  the sense of, I don't feel the need for them) I can't read what he says.  (or don't want to, but it feels like just can't).  I have never heard him say anything bad, the one thing I looked at he was quite good.  If he wants to build character fine, and I think it has been undermined in all sorts of ways.  If he can move a society, which  encourages bad character,  mainly by making consumption (the universal solvent of character) and success, the measure of the person, to encouraging good character, good for him.       


Regardless of whether sermons—he actually goes way beyond sermonizing, though of course there’s a strong element of that and he says so—the gist of this piece as I read it is is a probing examination of what Jordan thinks and says, the depth of which accommodates probing (and shoots down the charge of only sermons)—though at the deepest parts of his thought I don’t get him—to exemplify media fakery, outright misrepresentation of him, and to explore with trenchant acumen the roots of that sheer dissembling.  


Where was the probing?  It moved all over the place and included all sorts of things about his reception on the left.  I doubt there is any thought. The deepest part of his thoughts?  Like what don't you get?  This sounds like you are talking about Kierkegaard or Wittgenstein.  Who is dissembling?   Indeed the culture battle seems to be is pretty above-board.  Shut your fucking mouth you fascist.  Fuck you, I'll say what the fuck I please.  Is anyone puzzled by it?  Do people wrestle with the ideas of any of these people?  They are serious because a lot is at stake but intellectually it's boring.   (Granted I am bored by statistics, which is probably where the action is, i.e., truth rather than fictions  like God, rights, however useful they may be) but all I need to ruin a day is to study opposing statistical analyses of anything, vs. finding someone who says the stats are on my side.  Just google.  


Try this, which I just wrote to a couple of guys:

...Take the notorious hit job on him recently in the NYT, written of course by one fairly young journalist and passing muster with her editors. She for one thing called him a sexist purveyor of awful misogyny, an exemplar of “toxic masculinity,” and, so a placeholder for the patriarchy. These ascending tropes have roots in the prevailing general misinformation circulating about Peterson in media of all kinds.  And at the height of the ascension sits an ingrained premise of the further left, and maybe not so far left. And in that premise, the patriarchy, is one fount out of which flows the discourse/narratives and the responses to them so roils the hyper nature of the culture and political craziness of our moment.  (Obviously Canada in more muted tones shares in them.) So she picks up that theme in her piece and in the social psychology of these things gives the idea the cultural imprimatur and legitimacy of the vaunted NYT. And her case rests on the notion of enforced monogamy, which Peterson has written and spoken about. But her use of the term in application to Peterson is near to defamatory: she says he says the state should by its varied coercive means impose monogamy on women. They can’t leave without state imposed consequences. But he’s not saying that at all. Rather he’s using a term prevalent in anthropology and social psychology and maybe other disciplines too that refers to something like the across the board prevalence of norms that conduce to monogamy. He’s not close to saying anything about the state enforcing anything: he says the opposite: women are and should be free to make choices here. So then with the legitimacy accorded by the imprimatur of the NYT this false meme doubles down on itself on Twitter and FB and in other platforms and sides and becomes, now so well “established” the criterion by which you’re so in by ascribing to it and so out and absurd by dissing it. And so you have in this example a microcosm of the large sweep of what Yang argues. 

Now admittedly, as I said, that this dissembling of what Peterson says and thinks is “fake news” is my own claim not Yang’s. But I can see no ground for saying that this dissembling doesn’t fit into the fake news category 

I’m open to persuasion otherwise....

Or take any other of the examples Yang rehearses: say the differential in pay pay between men and women, or in the inequality in outcomes among groups, or why so far anyway men are more prevalent in business and politics than women or why more men are in jail than women. Consider the reprise Yang gives to Peterson’s “multivariate” account of some of the factors and how that complexity differs from the simple minded premises of the ideologically hide bound, especially on the left.

To me that’s probing in the way of long form journalism. (He’s not writing a peer review  article for an obscure academic journal.) And if that’s not probing to you, then we share different conceptions of what  probing means.

He’s listened to and read Peterson for hours and hours and had drilled down to correct understandings of some what Peterson thinks, including noting where on some points he finds Peterson lacking, and sets it against agenda driven takes on him. Why isn’t that probing in the way of long form journalism? 


The multivariate analysis is common sense to someone with no hobbyhorse.  He was very good on that in the interview on the bbc and the woman was stupid and must have repeated the 7% differential 20 times.  What is the interest in that other than the sheer fun of watching an arrogant person get skewered.  It was entertainment not a serious discussion between people who knew what they were talking about.  
Indigenation goes apace.  It is nonsense.  What kind of discussion can one have about that?  Like, the university is an agent of colonization and we are trying to decolonize, etc.  What can one honestly say about that other than laugh or be contemptuous.  Wente can be pretty good with a light touch, but she’s a pro and while I admire the rhetoric I am not hearing a serious debate.  

As soon as discussion gets serious it gets picky and academic.  If one has a public platform one takes sides and offers ones view and it vanishes by the next day.  Seminars are boring unless there is basic like mindedness about some fundamentals.  

I have ben loving Roths the Counterlife in which he mimics various positions brilliantly, both sides, and what is great is that one understands the passions that underlie them.  But debate, discussion, never, the book would drop dead in an instant.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The NFL Players Have No Case On Not Being Allowed To Kneel Etc.

A correction and a further couple of thoughts.

The correction:

I reread Turley, whom I suggest you read if you haven’t—he’s short, clear and to the point. I said there may be a way into the constitutional issues by way of the collective bargaining agreement, which way, I said, I don’t understand but there it is. Well, it’s not a way in: the argument would be that the CBA properly understood prohibits the decision by the NFL to penalize on field kneeling. Whatever the merits of that argument, that’s precisely a contractual issue not a constitutional one and as such has nothing legally to do with 1st Am claims.

The thought or two:

I’ve seen online some fanciful thinking—fanciful in my and Turley’s view, no disrespect to Martin—that Trump’s inveighing here implicates state action. And Ken is right to note that a court might stretch a point, to my mind stretch beyond proper legal limits, to affirm that implication, just as the New York judge held that Trump couldn’t constitutionally block people from his Twitter account, reasoning on the basis of the doctrine of public forum, and just as lower courts have bent themselves into legal pretzels to strike down various Trump initiatives more as a matter of the “resistance” than as a matter of sound legal reasoning. You see this kind of trashing of established doctrine by such eminent Trump haters such as Lawrence Tribe and, less eminent, Richard Painter, who both seem to have gone off the deep end. So far SCOTUS has gone out of its way to resist the resistance, so to say, and, so to say, lay down the law. Which all circles back to Ken’s correct observation of what a court might do. But Ken’s observation generalized to a theory of adjudication suffers, to my mind, by not recognizing that while in hard cases, in which competing legal principles and their underlying values are virtually equally compelling, ideological presupposition informs adjudication—there’s no doubt about that, still disinterested legal reasoning also informs it and there’s marked tension between the two. (Dworkin argues that even in hard cases there’s always necessarily one right principled answer.) But as cases get less hard, as established doctrine is less conflicted, then usually presupposition recedes and disinterested analysis prevails. And so with the doctrine of state action so firmly and clearly established, with the NFL and its own decision making as an insuperable obstacle to state action here, it would be aberrant in the worst sense of judicial activism for an argument for state action to prevail.

Terrific, Thoughful Essay On Identity Politics As Evident In Exchange Between Sam Harris And Ezra Klein



Excellent piece from a thoughtful Canadian writer—with whom I happen to agree—whom I’ve only most recently come across.

The core idea here is that bad identity politics—it’s not all necessarily bad, such as racially or ethnically composed groups fighting for their equal rights—at its core involves the self refuting premise that individuals can’t get separate themselves from their “tribe,” that their thoughts, views and attitudes are essentially conditioned by their ineradicably etched in group belonging, and that others, deludedly professing their own non tribalism, can never understand those tribally different others.  

My own thought is that it’s a least paradoxical, if not contradictory, to claim that those of us, including me, who hold that ideas based evidence and logic—at its most pure modelled by science—allow us to transcend the impositions on who we are by birth, race, class and gender, are by tribal in virtue of what we so hold.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Fauda Season 1


Fauda Season 1

A few minor spoiler alerts: 

So I’d started watching Fauda Season 1 more than a year ago and never finished it I guess because it didn’t take hold of me. 

But a little while ago, I dug into it again, started from Episode 1 and over time finished it all. It did take hold of me this time. The story got its hooks into me. 

As I watched, I became very interested in how the show “balanced the equities,” so to say, as between Jews and Arabs. Even in that balancing, unquestionably, “the Panther” reflects the heights of fanatical, ends-justify-the-means evil and nihilistic malevolence.

One thing I note is the easy Semitic interchangeability between Arab and Jew, exploited by the Israeli counter intelligence group whose members can so easily pass as Arabs. (The show doesn’t show the vice versa of that.) 

That easy interchangeability raises for me the thematic implication of deeply underlying commonality between Arab and Jew despite their  obvious hatred and hostility, with that commonality measuring the tragic futility of the perpetual war between them. 

I find that implication both reinforced by the winking and sincerely congenial cooperation between certain high level Fatah, the odd Hamasian, and Jewish intelligence and counter intelligence agencies and the Israeli hospitality to and successful hospitalization of the Panther’s daughter, which leads to saving her eye.  

Abir’s mother is tormented and pulled apart by her daughter being medically treated by Jews in a Jewish hospital but is thankful for and acknowledges the superior and successful medical treatment Abir has gotten. So, in line with my view of the theme of season 1, the tragic and futile absurdity of the Arab Jew hatreds get symbolized by a pink, stuffed Teddy Bear the hospital staff kindly and genuinely gives to Abir. 

In the midst of her torment, Abir’s mother, Nassrin, while enroute to the airport with her children to leave the Mid East and the Panther behind, impulsively takes the bear away from Abir, has their taxi stop and places it on a bench at a bus stop. Abir tearfully rejects Nassrin’s explanation that the “Jewish bear is no good” and that she’ll get her a better one. Abir wants only the Jewish bear and keeps saying so through her tears.

As well, the genuinely deep feelings Doron and Shirin have for each other, even as Doron passes for an Arab when with her, convey an emotional and human connection that implicatively transcends ethnic division.  

And then to top all this off, it just so happens that I finished watching Season 1 yesterday and Netflix has “dropped,” as in is presenting, Season 2 today.

Illusion v Delusion


A-for-me elusive distinction—illusion v delusion: here’s what I worked out just today without looking it up:

an illusion occurs when external factors deceive us into thinking X is Y because X looks like Y even though it’s not Y—there’s no fault in the person making the mistake;

a delusion occurs when even though X doesn’t look like Y and there’s no real reason to confuse the two, we mistake X for Y—our delusion is our fault. 

Now that I’ve said that, here’s an online set of distinctions:

........1. Illusion pertains to unreal vision. Delusion can be said to be a false belief.

2. Illusion can be said to be one that fools the mind and delusion is something one perceives to be truth even after other contradict it.

3. Illusion pertrains to the mind and delusion pertains to belief.

4. Illusion can be termed as perceptual disturbance, delusion can be called as belief disturbance.

5. Illusion is smething that is caused by outside influence but delusion is caused by one’s feelings....

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Few More Thoughts On Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion


Not quite yet at 1/4 mark of Dawkins’s The God Delusion, some of which is elementary, some of which is shrill and some of which is striking.

Two thoughts (among others): 

1. Dawkins makes brief mention of Pascal’s wager.

If you believe in God and it’s true, you’re golden.

If you believe and it’s not true, what have you given up? 

Not a lot, in fact you’ll have lived a righteously moral life.

If you don’t believe in God and he exists, well good luck with that as you burn in the fires of Hell. 

Dawkins criticizes this wager on the ground that we can’t force or will ourselves to believe. We either do “organically”—my word—or we feign belief on a bet. 

Dawkins is too clever by half here. 

In his online show Coffee With Comedians In Cars, Seinfeld tells one guy, maybe Jim Carrey, I can’t remember whom, paraphrase, “Later for process. It’s not worth talking about. All that matters is the comedy at the end of it.” 

It seems to me that that applies to the origins or springs of faith, that in fact in one mode of those springs we can will ourselves to believe. What will then count, from the angle of faith, is the depth and sincerity of it once attained. After all, isn’t Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith” a kind of willing himself into it? 

2. Dawkins rehearses an argument that always presented a problem to my atheism—the argument from irreducible complexity: take the eye for example; it’s mind bogglingly improbable that chance mutations could have created such an incredibly complex sense organ as the eye with its virtually infinite components and minute, delicate and multifarious processes. So irreducible complexity is the highest example of the argument against evolution from improbability.

Dawkins has two powerful answers that I’m persuaded do away with this argument. 

One, the argument is correct insofar far as it denies the operation of chance in the “creation”—“creation” used advisedly—of the eye. Natural selection is not chance process. Rather, and to oversimplify, under natural selection organisms best suited to their environments survive and pass on their genetic traits in increasing number to successive generations.

Two, irreducible complexity takes an airplane right to the peak of “Mount Improbability” and declares the eye at the peak irreducibly complex beyond chance (and beyond evolution.) But, as opposed to jetting immediately to the peak, we must make our slow way up the mountain, going round and round it in a slowly ascending *cumulative* mountain hike of small changes over hundreds and hundreds of millions of years. Seen as such a glacially slow, incremental process, evolution is quite up to the challenge of accounting for irreducible complexity and for kicking “irreducible” out of the phrase. 

P.S. a note to a friend here from my being very early into Dawkins:

....My atheism at times needs a kick in the ass to bolster it. I sometimes tend to slide away from it. So Dawkins is good for that. Mind you I do find him shrill on some points like why is slagging religion so verboten when (say) we can openly and freely and with impunity attack differing policy or political views or views on the origins of the universe. The answer is so obvious. But I’m only at the beginning and I’m finding plenty that’s new (at least to me) like the nature of Einstein’s or Hawking’s religiosity and what the American founders believed and didn’t believe and too some of the nuances among deism, theism, atheism and agnosticism. So except for a few shrill notes, I’m enjoying the book a lot and admire Dawkins’s unabashed taking religion on....

P.PS.S. Dawkins explains that for Einstein religion, a word misused by Einstein Dawkins argues, meant, “I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.”

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Three Thoughts From Having Read The First 1/4 Of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion


Three thoughts that strike me from about the first 1/4 of Dawkins’s The God Delusion, which I’m reading:

1. He repeats an argument for God that goes: insofar as we have good and evil, then we must have the ultimate standards of them both for the judgments of each; hence God and the devil must exist as the manifestations of those ultimate standards. Otherwise, we could make no judgment as to either.

Dawkins: Therefore, we can’t judge bad smells unless we have the ultimate manifestation of smelliness. And, so, God must be the greatest “stinker.” 

2. Dawkins attempts to break through Stephen Jay Gould’s notion of “two non-overlapping magisteria,” or realms, being the realm of science and the realm of faith and religious belief. Contrarily, Dawkins argues science can apply to the latter and ought to enter into matters of faith on the reasoning that if the object of faith could be shown to be absurd, then faith in that object could not sustain itself. 

So he notes Bertrand Russell’s question on where or on whom does the burden of proof of lie on the question of God’s existence? For if the claim is that the centre and great creator of the universe is a celestial teacup, would we say that since we cannot absolutely prove or disprove it, then we must suspend judgment on that claim and hold that it’s equally possible that the teacup is or isn’t centre and creator? Of course not, Russell argues, and, so, the burden of proof must fall on the claimant. If no case can be made for the claim, then it should be dismissed for the nonsense it is.

Dawkins then argues if this is so for the existence of the celestial teacup, then why isn’t it so for the existence of God? We’d likely judge someone who believed in a celestial teacup as somewhat touched. We don’t judge religious believers this way—sanity in numbers, as Sam Harris notes—but hasn’t the underpinning of religious faith been devastated by the example of the celestial teacup, asks Dawkins.

I had till reading this tended to agree with Gould as to the non overlapping two domains of science and religion but Dawkins persuades me of overlap at least to the extent that science (and logic) might reduce to absurdity the basis for faith. 

3. The ontological argument for the existence of God, in one formulation, runs: God manifests ultimate perfection; it is more perfect to exist than not to exist; therefore God exists. 

Dawkins notes (again) Bertrand Russell remarking that we intuit strongly that this argument is flawed but are bedevilled to explain why. 

And at one point when he was younger Russell had a a kind of Valhalla moment and the revelation that the logic of the ontological argument was impeccably correct. 

But then, later in his life, Russell reasoned that unless we can move from thought to things, create things by thought, we cannot move from a syllogism about God’s existence as perfection to the actuality of God’s existence. 

Either there’s a bridge from thought to existence or there’s not, says Russell. Not means the failure of the ontological argument. (I wonder whether it’s an answer to Russell here that God isn’t a thing but is rather the manifestation of immaterial transcendent intangibility, pure divine spirit, an aspect of itself recreated in human thought?) 

Dawkins quotes an American philosopher—I can’t recall his name—who asks, paraphrase, “What does it mean to say, that ‘It’s more perfect to exist than not to exist?” This philosopher goes on to reason, paraphrase, “We can say sensibly an insulated house is better—more perfect—than an uninsulated one, but that it’s nonsense to say an existing house is better—more perfect—than a house that doesn’t exist. 

He also quotes the *parody* argument of an Australian philosopher, maybe named Gaskin, that goes (if I have this right): God manifests the greatest of all creators and creations; it is greater to create with a disability than without one; the greatest disability is not to exist; therefore the greatest creation by the greatest creator is the creation of the universe by a non existent God; therefore God does not exist. 

(No wonder Dawkins quotes one philosopher who quipped that a the definition of a philosopher is someone who resists common sense.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Who On The Right Is A Racist And Celebrated The Way Ta Nehisi Coates Is Celebrated On The Left


I say Ta Nehisi Coates is a black racist. That’s reinforced by his latest on Kanye West saying he loves Trump.

I asked a friend, who said the left can name the same types on the right, to find an intellectual racist on the right who gets the same adulation Coates does.

R: .... Tough assignment since I don't read Coates or anyone else.  I guess I would head for talk radio, which of course does not get the coverage he does.  Limbaugh has 14.000.000 listeners.  Coates a few intellectuals....

Me: ... Limbaugh is a good mention but Coates, take it from me, is a black racist. He hates on whites and whiteness. He thinks most American whites are pigs, coterminous and continuous with the official pigs, the cops. Limbaugh for all his bombast and culturally incendiary rants says 0 remotely close to what Coates says.  And Limbaugh makes no appeal to the pointy headed among us, the way Coates does...

R: .... But who listens to Coates?  This goes back to Marcus Garvey.  There has always been a furious group of black men who loathe whites for the obvious reasons.  Like Palestinians loathe Israelis who render them powerless.  No matter the current reality, they live with history, like some white Southerners.

My current theory about the academic business is that one's choice is to cave before the women (and those who trail in their wake) or become the macho prick.  Take your pick, they give you no choice.  That's civilization now.  You can no on about principle all you want but the male profs caved out of fear of female moral authority, regardless of the principles.  And you would have, like me, soon realized it was a losing battle and not worth sacrificing one's time to.  A few brave souls continued on with SAFS but that's about it.  No-one said, just suck it up and you'll catch up soon enough.  It's not the army....

Me: (Coup de grace?) ..... For sure you can locate Coates’s racist screeds within a certain American tradition. But I can’t think of anyone in that tradition who has been celebrated, cheered, idealized, feted, and adopted by so many whites as has Coates. Not even Malcolm X, who was a black racist as a Black Muslim before at the end he broke with Elijah Muhammad and started to move away from Black Muslim virulence and who had his moments of cultural glory before his assassination. 

None of them were pinnacle journalists at a mainstream or really any “white” journal like the Atlantic where Coates is seen and treated as a star and huge feather in the magazine’s cap. 

When Malcom X had his moment of glory, racial disparity and tensions in the U.S. overshadowed those of of today

And while Coates right this moment is unabated in his racism, Malcom X was slowly coming off his, a big source of aggravation to Elijah Muhammad.

And this is the same Atlantic, btw, which in a matter of a few days fired Kevin Williamson after he began writing for it. The ostensible reason: he had written and said maybe 3 putatively unlovely things out of 100,000s of words written  and 100,000s of words said. Williamson doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. His sin: he’s unabashedly heterodox. And the real reason: Goldberg and the deciders at the Atlantic couldn’t take the woke heat as the outraged left unofficially organized to have Williamson dumped. And they won. The contrast between Williamson and Coates couldn’t be brighter. 

Coates has won a National Book Award,  and a McArthur “genius” grant and a PEN award for his racist rants put into high flown, purple prose. There’s not a left leaning white person or non white left leaning person who doesn’t swear by Coates except maybe one or two like Cornel West who doesn’t think Coates is radical enough and sees him, with some justification, as toadying up to the whites who pay him.

Here’s the best short take on Coates’s invidiousness:

And here’s another that the New Yorker wouldn’t publish because it cut against the narrative:

That’s who listens to/reads Coates. 

Limbaugh “can’t touch this” as MC Hammer sang.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Contrarian Possibility Of What Katie Sadler Said About John McCain


Here's an unpleasing, unlovely contrarian thought.

Gallows humour is grim and ironic humour in a desperate or hopeless situation.

Who among us especially in bleak situations has not cracked wise in this way?

Who among us has not said these grim things in the expectation of privacy and would be deeply ashamed if the remark went public?

Who among us isn't frightened of the possibility that certain things we joke about in this vein might go public and, so, have become more vigilant about what we say and to whom we say it? 

Who among us doesn't hold the gallows humour of friends against them as not reflective of who they are and knowing the context and intent of the private remarks? 

Is there anyone so pure among us such that their answer to these questions is, "Not me" but to the last one is, "l do?

So, is it possible that Sadler, who said that despicable thing about McCain, was blowing off some gallows humour steam with the expectation that it wouldn't be made public? 

Is it possible her failure lies in her foolish reckoning that "this is just among us" rather than or more than what she said as meant gallows humour? 

Understood this way, ought this change our view of what she said and does vilifying her for what she said, on this view of it, cast us as offending the injunction not to cast stones if we are with sin?

The Pitfall Of The Idea Of God Divined Natural Law

I was reading a commencement address by a Catholic thinker, George Weigel, given at a Catholic law school, Ave Maria School of Law, on law as a vocation and as something beyond billable hours. 

He contrasts notions of law as positive law—law is what courts hold or society enacts as law, with notions of natural law—positive law needing to conform to universal precepts derivable by right reason from (he would say) God, (but others say) nature or the nature of things.

Things at first were going along ok. But then he quotes MLK:

.... One may well ask, “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law...

and the intellectual red flags go up: you know, whose moral law, or, put another way, who gets to instruct a secular society on the content of a governing moral code. 

And then the red flags start waving furiously to signal intellectual danger, a pending collapse of the whole structure:

.....This false concept of freedom and the false concept of law that goes with it are at the root of our Supreme Court’s mistaken decisions on abortion and marriage in Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, United States v. Windsor, and Obergefell v. Hodges. And beneath those false ideas of freedom and law lies another error that is putting our democracy in jeopardy: the idea that there is only your truth and my truth, but nothing properly describable as the truth. What happens, though, if “your truth” and “my truth” collide and there is no standard of judgment — call it “the truth” — by which we can settle our differences?....

I myself am particularly offended by Weigel telling me that Windsor and Obergefell, which together “constitutionalize” the right to gay marriage, are wrong, are wrongly decided. 

He has no persuasive authority for his proposition that is intellectually, legally or morally greater than my intellectual, legal or moral authority for my proposition that they are right, rightly decided. 

Neither God, nor nature nor the nature of things compels the conclusion that a secular society, one that separates church and state, one that disallows the establishment of religion (while protecting its free exercise) not only errs, but errs grievously, when it sanctions gay marriage.

If Weigel were to take God away as a divine source of universal first principles, then what would his proposition come to, what force would it have?

Not anything close to what he claims for it, his claim being its indubitability. 

Without God, he’d nakedly be making a series of secular arguments that are bested by the contending secular arguments that court after court over the developed world has accepted in holding that gay marriage is a fundamental right.

And with this pitfall, Weigel’s entire high flown, hortatory argument collapses into arbitrariness and maybe even incoherence.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Dershowitz A Sellout? No Question About It: He’s Not!


Excellent essay on the Dersh though I don’t find it a complex issue even though the original linker, Ron Radosh, thinks it is. 

Here’s what I wrote on the thread following from Radosh’s original post:
.... It’s not really a complex issue, though this essay in Politico is really good in its roundedness and surprising balanced sympathy for Dershowitz. He most assuredly has a superior mind, legal and otherwise. And he has warts, sure: we all do. But his aren’t lack of principle, hypocrisy or lack of intellectual integrity. They’re, if anything, characterological: ego driven, hungry for attention, limelight seeking and those kinds of traits. 

My only criticism of this piece is, in microcosm, its placement of too much emphasis on his appearances on Fox. So what if he’s on Fox a lot? It gives him millions of eyes, ears and minds. 

The world revealed by that sand grain is one gone off kilter in its dismissal of all things that putatively favor Trump, let alone in reacting syndromically against Trump himself, as if just under 1/2 of voting Americans are wholly wrong about him, as if he isn’t accomplishing things, as if there’s no argument whatsoever to be made for any aspect of him or in his favor with respect to any issue. 

There is in this essay a little too much credence given to that view, a view which doesn’t bear scrutiny, as informing a valid criticism of Dershowitz. Mind you that lesser imperfection is offset by the good, strong sway given to the opposite and right position, namely:

..... In another view, the people who’ve lost their way are the liberals and civil libertarians, blinded by their rage for Trump, who have dropped their principles in a moment of political threat and are taking out their anger on a man who has been their staunchest ally....

....Maybe the question isn’t what happened to Alan Dershowitz.

Maybe it’s what happened to everyone else....

I’d like to see someone make the case, other than what’s already been cited in the essay, against that “another view.”.....

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Note On A Note By Jonathan Turley On Judge Ellis On Mueller And Manafort And Cohen


My critique of this column:

....A few thoughts on this column:

You conflate what goes on in oral argument with what a judge is really thinking or stating as law. In the colloquy between lawyer and judge, the judge is at liberty in a Socratic way to put lawyers’ feet to the fire of their positions by raising all kinds of issues, questions, surmises, and hypotheticals. It’s for counsel respectfully to stand up to a judge who has gone over the line.

Besides how far afield did Ellis go in his characterizing Mueller’s motives? The motion here asserting  no jurisdiction explicitly or patently implicitly is accusing the Special Counsel of bad faith in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Given that, how far flung is the judge’s speculative ascription of Mueller’s motivation, however thin Manafort’s argument on that score may be?  Ellis is simply doing what many engaged judges in oral argument do: putting in the baldest terms the other side’s case to arguing counsel.

Finally, don’t you at the end of your column come round to what Ellis was getting at, bad motivation—political motivation, shake down motivation, other unlovely motivation—in the disparate approaches to Manafort and Cohen? If so, I see you undercutting the criticism of Ellis’s concern with prosecutorial motivation with which you begin your column.

A Quick Contrast Of Schneiderman And Brokaw


Why the immediate and appropriate response to Schneiderman’s disgusting behavior and the relative pass seemingly being given to Brokaw?

I suppose the answer is obvious: even before a conclusive determination of S’s guilt in beating and choking women, the numbers who came forward, the brutality of what they described and the pattern to their stories made his presumptive guilt impossible to ignore. 

Impossible it was even as some told at least one of the women, paraphrase, “You hush up now, he’s too important a Democrat, too important to the “resistance,” too important in the fight for Democratic ascendancy and too important in the fight for women’s rights.” 

(Shades here of those who lied and attacked and vilified his victims in trying to protect Clinton B from accusations of predation.)

Brokaw’s accusers apparently haven’t achieved a critical mass sufficient to turn the liberal tide against him what with the letter from 100+ women—some complaining of undue pressure to sign it, some who weren’t out of knee pants when the sexual assaults apparently took place in the nineties, what with his reputation as a nice guy, what with the dent the accusers pose to his liberal iconicism. 

Yet with Brokaw the fact of the two victims with similar stories—how many others I wonder, their detailed accounts, their distraught accounts, their telling others about them at the time, what with the foundational premises of #metoo (or whatever is the hashtag du jour), should, I’d think, all be enough to tilt the presumption of guilt against Brokaw and which in different bundles *have* been enough to put away lesser men.